Mountain hares killed and dumped in a bin on grouse moor in Peak District National Park

Earlier this month a group called the Hunt Investigation Team (HIT) released disturbing footage they’d filmed during the spring on a grouse-shooting estate in the Peak District National Park (see here). The footage included masked armed men, purportedly gamekeepers, snaring badgers and mountain hares. Derbyshire Constabulary is currently investigating the group’s claims.

HIT have since been releasing other photographs and video footage (see the HIT website here), including the following two photographs appearing to show a bin full of dead mountain hares (and at least one pheasant), presumably killed and now being used as a ‘stink pit’ (midden), where the odour of rotting corpses draws in predators which are subsequently snared, killed and added to the pile.

If you’re a UK tax payer, you are subsidising this gruesome activity (see here).

The mountain hare is listed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species (UKBAP), identified as threatened and requiring conservation action. The Peak District National Park Authority has the mountain hare listed as a priority species within the Park and say it is “a locally important species for which we’re taking action” (see here).

How does allowing them to be killed on a grouse moor within the National Park, and then dumped in a bin to be used as bait to catch and kill other wildlife, constitute conservation action?

Emails to Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park Authority:

35 thoughts on “Mountain hares killed and dumped in a bin on grouse moor in Peak District National Park”

  1. I’m absolutely certain they’re rabbits, there’s also two pheasants in there, you can see the tail feathers of at least one cock bird and one hen. I’m also struggling to see how, by any stretch of imagination, that can be described as a midden. It appears accessible from all directions, plus had there been any snares I would have expected photographs. Be careful you don’t start undermining your good work on this site please! I’m fully supportive of your actions against raptor persecution but draw the line at either intentionally or inadvertently distorting a situation. I’ve sent an email to the address provided to give my view.

    1. I agree that the carcasses look like rabbits and I can’t see any snares BUT … gamekeepers sometimes leave carcasses on location at a proposed midden without snares to begin with to encourage animals into the ‘safe’ area for an easy meal. Then, when the animals are acclimatised to the midden, they can leave unset snares around until the animals are easy with the snares. Then it’s time to kill!

      What do you think the purpose of a bin full of carcasses on a moor with clear tracks leading to and from the bin is? The tracks would provide the perfect location for snares around the bin (directing any animals along a well worn track towards the snares and midden because of the heather effectively forming barriers to movement elsewhere). And, as I said, the carcasses will have already encouraged animals and birds into the area.

      Had those dead animals been domestic animals or livestock, the land owner could be prosecuted for not disposing of the carcasses safely. Piling wild carcasses in the open or in a container which is easily accessible to any meat eating animals or birds isn’t an offence even if it’s near a footpath or housing or on open access land. The industry code says that snares should only be set where there is clear evidence of foxes in an area and should not be used where protected animals are also occupying the same area. Using middens as a way of attracting foxes to snares completely undermines that guidance but will we see action by any of the shooting apologist organisations? I doubt it.

      Yet again, shooting estates can stick their fingers up to health and safety, environmental and animal welfare considerations.

  2. Just thought I’d add, they’re not even dead rabbits, they’re just pelts. You can see the inside of the pelts in the photograph at 3 o’clock and again at 6 o’clock.

      1. No, but those who are committed to end raptor persecution need to be seen to be submitting clear and unequivocal evidence. The specific line of this blog post was regarding dead mountain hares used for a midden. Even the most basic view of the bin’s contents would have shown that not to be correct, and more worryingly, even viewing the photograph supplied would (certainly should!) lead the viewer to the same conclusion if they’ve had any contact with mountain hares and rabbits. It’s plainly obvious that those are just rabbit pelts, and whilst that most certainly is still an abhorrent sight it certainly isn’t what is as described by the blog post. That will only undermine the valiant work of the Raptor Persecution Scotland. It’s too important and well-known to be squandered and subjective and, to be honest, incorrect descriptions.

      2. All I can see there are pheasant tail feathers, and a pile of what does look like pelts, in a bin that could have been appropriated from the back of a game dealers, and placed on any of a number of roadsides with an appropriate backdrop! It’s a set up!!

        Come on RPS, don’t lower yourselves to these tactics.

  3. Fair warning Alpha, as we try to maintain the higher moral ground, which our opponents so obviously lack.But I think we have more than enough real cases to concentrate on without the need to manipulate any.It does illustrate though that we do need to be careful that we cannot be accused of false evidence.

    1. If they are trying to smear the voracity of what is said by RPUK they will not refer to what is accurate, only the inaccurate.

  4. As a professional ecologist those look very much like mountain hares to me and if thats not a midden what the hell do you think it is. A bin out out for the dustmen to collect? Not all middens have funnels leading predators in you know.

    1. You should look a little closer – they’re not even dead rabbits, they’re pelts. You can see the inside of the pelt at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock. All middens have snares on approaches. HIT have already put up photographs of the snares they’re found at previous locations. A bin with rabbit skins in the open with no snares won’t be a very ‘successful’ midden.

    2. As a non-professional environmentalist, this looks very much like a bin full of waste from a game processor, which could be stood in any number of places to get the required backdrop. I could quite easily replicate this type of photo, with absolutely no laws being broken. Some people here are just seeing what they want to see.

      This kind of “evidence” is clearly designed to inflame ill informed public opinion, and frankly, it makes me begin to question the validity of some of the other RPS blogs that I cannot verify for myself.

  5. Careful, they look like rabbits and cock and hen pheasant to me, on top at least. Also don’t think stink pit is a possibility.

  6. PS I totally trust the Hunt Investigation Team and Raptor Persecution. I’m certain there will be mountain hares in that bin. I’m 100% certain the HIT would have double checked their facts before putting up the photos and info on their web site. Their website exposes the massive scale of animal and bird abuse on this shooting estate. The level of persecution they uncovered is similar to the massive level of cruelty and illegality in my local area. Hopefully they’ll be able to get their local police to take action on some of the offences they videoed and photographed. Well done HIT.

  7. It’s difficult for me to begin to consider who else but estate workers could be responsible for the bin being where it is. Having lived in the middle of grouse moors for a number of years I know that it is nigh impossible for anyone to access the land carrying anything like a bin without being seen and observed ,, and access to the unauthorised is always on foot. If those responsible were not known to those who work or live in that area they would have most certainly have been confronted. However the reason for it being placed there might be worth a thought … they are experts in decepetion are they not? As for the type of animals/birds in the bin, does it really matter?

    1. ” As for the type of animals/birds in the bin, does it really matter?”, Generally, I’d say ‘no’; in the context of the blog post – absolutely! If the post went along the lines of ‘bin full of rabbit pelts found on grouse moor’ it wouldn’t have been out of place. Bin full of dead hares used for midden, however, isn’t an accurate description. Not that it has any bearing but I’d also say that photograph isn’t recent. I’m sure the viewer will be able to work out why.

  8. I would like to see that contents of these ‘stinkpits’ be gathered up and dumped on the doorsteps of the offending land-owners. If these landowners/managers can’t control rogue gamekeepers, they should forfeit the stewardship. Park managers must take the initiative. There’s a war brewing here – we’re losing everything and it must stop!

    1. Come on Eco! It is the landowners/managers running the show! The ‘rogue’ gamekeepers are just following orders – I agree with you totally that they should forfeit everything but I also think that these ‘rogue keepers’ should have a little more backbone to stand up to them! Trouble is, most of them believe the shit they are fed on!

  9. I do have to give full credit to you at RPUK (apologies for writing RPS in other comments) for also posting replies that don’t agree with the sentiment of some of your blogs. That is important to a constructive approach.

  10. Looks like a bin of rabbit skins, its not a recent photo, this can be seen by the vegetation, possible old bones in the background ?, baiting/feeding stations dont have to have snares set up, they are very good for lamping over.
    Is it wrong for me to bait traps with fish for mink, similar situation, this is another tool in the box for trapping foxes.

  11. Based on just that one photograph, as a professional ecologist for many years, I wouldn’t be confident in assigning rabbit or mountain hare to that bin. And therein lies the issue exposed in these comments. I’d usually take RPUK’s word on the matter, but this seems to be direct from HIT. Now I’m sure their hearts are in the right place, but they are obviously biased. They recently revealed the exact location of a Crow trap – which though unpleasant, is legal and even the badger shooting story did not actually show what it purported to be. This kind of story should not be appearing here as we trust RPUK to present the facts. I stopped following the otherwise excellent Raptor Politics site because it’s biased. I understand their despair and anger at the actions of gamekeepers, but we all need to not get carried away by emotion. If this does indeed turn out to be rabbits (or worse – planted to demonstrate practices we actually all know go on), it provides a factual basis for the pro-shooting lobby to ask what else has RPUK got wrong and could support their ridiculous claim that animal rights activists are responsible for wildlife crime just to try and blame ‘innocent’ gamekeepers. That would be a situation we all need to avoid.

    1. Don’t come out with the ‘planted’ stuff! It makes me sick to read a disgusting allegation like on this site made that against a superb group that’s getting out there with video footage and photos exposing the disgusting every day activities of shooting estates and hunts.

      As a professional ecologist you will know of the massive scale of persecution on shooting estates. You’ll know that the huge number of incidents recorded by HIT weren’t set up. You’ll know that snares and traps – hundreds of them – are standard practice. You’ll know, too, that stink pits, sometimes containing protected species, are no surprise.

      I’ve checked out the HIT web site about your bird cage trap comment. If you are referring to the same statement I saw, the comment explained why they believed the cage trap was being used illegally. There was no exaggeration just a simple, clear statement. Factual, accurate and measured – like RPUK consistently maintain here.

      As for your comment about the video of the badger not showing what it purported to show – what are you on about! The film clip is horrific. How can it be anything else when it shows the badger being ‘released’ by having the anchor end of the snare wire round it’s neck shot off and then the poor animal suffering the same fate with the second snare it charged into as it tried to flee being blasted repeatedly until the snare snapped. That animal ran off with two snares still tightly clasped around its neck and will probably have suffered shot blast and hearing injuries from being shot at so closely. If that isn’t animal cruelty at its worst then I clearly have a different perspective of suffering than you. I have no doubt that animal will have died from the injuries it suffered.

      As for the Raptor Politics site – it is a great site. Having a political debate draws out disagreements. That doesn’t mean the site isn’t worth following.

      Your repetition that the photo may be a set up is highly offensive and completely unsubstantiated. Sure, express concern that the carcasses may or may not have been missing identified but don’t slag off a professional organisation through inuendo.

      1. Terribly sorry if I’ve offended you. I never said it was a set-up or planted (and I’ll refrain from refuting the rest of your reply in line with my previous comment that we shouldn’t get carried away with emotion), I merely pointed out that without proof, the kind of people who’ve already made these allegations will likely jump on them and I’d rather RPUK did not get dragged into that. I’m fully aware of the scale of persecution, hence we need to concentrate on facts. The facts will lead to the end of DGS.

        The DGS industry is so rattled that they’re trying to suggest that those who want the law enforced will soon turn on legal game shooting to try and reinforce their position (see recent attacks on Packham and Avery). This still may be abhorrent to many, but it is legal, as is the even more abhorrent fox control. RPUK is not a platform for general animal rights activism, it’s about the illegal killing of birds of prey (look in the about tab at the top of the page).

  12. Rabbits, and as far as you can tell, pelts at that. HIT are a bunch of crazed radicals hell bent on casting those they oppose in the worse light by basically fabricating stories. Get a grip.

      1. So as they go through that prolonged decomposition process, all of the bones disappear, and all the fur manages to remain completely dry, despite being left out in the elements. I’m sorry but I’m going to have to agree with an earlier comment – some people are seeing what they want to see.

  13. It does seem a bit odd that the usual shooting head bangers aren’t more vocal about this if they thought it wasn’t mountain hares.
    Having said that, last year many of them were grousing about the accuracy of a LACS graphic about grouse shooting but none of them seemed to notice that a photo of a Brown Hare was labelled as a Mountain Hare. Perhaps they struggle to tell them apart as well.
    Given that Tim Bonner is unable to distinguish between a Linnet and a Sparrowhawk we know their identification skills aren’t that great.

  14. These are obviously just rabbit pelts and pheasant tails (maybe Carcass) ! and there’s absolutely nothing illegal in that! It’s definitely not a midden as it is set up all wrong! If you put as much time an effort into trying to catch people doing illegal things as you do setting up staged photos, then maybe you wouldn’t look like desperate amateurs trying to force your opinions on other people. People who work and do not brake the law should not be persecuted for earning an honest living!

  15. I really can’t tell if they are rabbits or hares from the photos. Could do with some hind legs and eartips. For those saying rabbit it may be an idea to explain the rabbit characteristics and for those saying hare likewise. Personally I think there are no distinguishing features evident.

    Thing is, you probably don’t get rabbits in the specific locality if its an open moor. If that were the case I couldn’t imagine someone importing dead rabbits from elsewhere. If you do get rabbits locally then it’s probably a mixture.

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